In the United States, there are two kinds of courts – state courts and federal courts. State courts have been established by each state and are located in cities and counties. In contrast, federal courts are established under the U.S. Constitution to handle disputes involving the Constitution and laws which were passed by Congress.
State courts have a lot of power, so most cases involving individuals will be heard in state courts. For example, the state courts will handle cases involving family law disputes, robberies, burglaries, theft and broken contracts. The state courts will not hear cases involving specific federal laws such as criminal, antitrust, bankruptcy, patent and copyrights.
A vast majority of criminal cases involving violations of state laws are heard in state courts, but cases which involve violations of federal laws can be diverted to federal court. There are some instances where both federal and state courts have jurisdiction. When this occurs, the parties choose whether to go to state or federal court.
A federal crime or federal offense is a crime which is made illegal by federal legislation. In the U.S., people can be prosecuted at either the state or federal level. As stated above, the majority of criminal offenses are prosecuted on the state level; however, a “federal offense" will be prosecuted on in federal court.
Certain aggravated or more serious sex crimes are federal offenses in this country. If a person is convicted of a federal sex crime, they could be facing mandatory minimum sentencing. In addition to spending years in prison, probation or parole, and fines, they are also facing mandatory sex offender registration.
When a person is required to register on the national sex offender registry, their name, address, headshot and description of their offense will be publically posted. This means that anyone can have access to such private information for years to come. Sex offender registration can also limit where you live and where you can be. Limits can be placed on how close you go to a school campus or a public park.
Another less widely known fact about being convicted of a federal sex crime is that you might be sent to a Federal Medical Center, which is a Federal Bureau of Prisons Facility. These facilities treat the terminally ill, the mentally ill and sex offenders. Inmates with a sex offender history are enrolled in the residential Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP-R) or Sex Offender Management Program (SOMP). Whether inmates like it or not, they are expected to submit to these “intensive" treatment programs along with other sex offenders.
What sex crimes fall under the category of federal sex crimes? First of all, most sex crimes involving children such as sexual assault, rape, possession of child pornography or distribution of child pornography are considered federal crimes. The list of federal sex crimes is quite extensive, however some common examples of federal sex crimes include aggravated sexual abuse, repeat offenders, sexual exploitation of children, human trafficking, sexual abuse of a minor, sexual abuse resulting in death, selling or buying children for sexual purposes, and many more.
Being convicted of a federal sex crime can ruin your reputation and your livelihood. Not only would you be facing years in prison, but mandatory sex offender registration as well. Being labeled a “sex offender" will affect your ability to get housing, employment and higher education. No matter what brought you to these charges, it’s essential that you consult with an experienced federal criminal attorney who defends such complex cases.